If you would like to read my views on religion and how we got started with the ministry, you can read this.
Have you ever been sinned against, wronged, cheated, lied to, deceived, scammed, conned, ripped off, or shafted? Do you think it may happen again? If so, developing the art of forgiveness will be beneficial to you. Forgiveness is a prerequisite for spiritual growth, mental health, emotional stability, physical wellbeing, and rewarding relationships. It is a key ingredient to true love, for without forgiveness, “love” is not love, it is little more than reciprocal back-scratching (or stabbing).
The sheer magnitude of sin in this fallen world today is overwhelming. Many people are creeps, and the rest of us too often act like creeps. Sinners leave “sinnees” in their wake. In fact, even those we love the most will wrong us, and, in reality, they have the most power to hurt us. All of us are fallen children of Adam, and the art of forgiveness is very handy, as in indispensable, if one wants anything close to real life as God intended it to be. Hurt people hurt people. Life is so full of wounded people who wound others that forgiveness must be at the heart of every relationship, and relationships are what both Christianity and life are all about. The key is not being for getting, but for giving.
A powerful teaching tape by the same title, The Art of Forgiveness, which elaborates on the points made briefly in this article, is available from us by clicking here.
Given that both secular and Christian research has shown that forgiving is absolutely required for mental and emotional health, we will consider the following: Why do we need to learn about forgiveness? What is forgiveness (first from God to me, and then me to others)? What are the benefits of forgiveness? What are some keys to forgiving? How do you know when you have forgiven someone?
To gain the greatest benefit from this article, as you read be thinking specifically of whom you need to forgive or who you need to ask to forgive you. How many unreconciled relationships are there in your life today, and how many of them are unreconciled due to your fear of being rejected when you speak to the other person? But that is exactly what you are supposed to do, whether you are the sinner or the sinnee.
Why learn about forgiveness?
Because forgiveness is a big key to radiant Christian living. When we do not forgive, we get hurt over and over again as the result of the sin once committed against us. It is like what the person did to you happens again every time you think about it with the attitude of unforgiveness. Thus, forgiveness is the only way to end the domination of another person’s sin over you. More good news—it is your choice whether or not to forgive.
Forgiveness is an integral part of self-government. Forgiving persons refuse to be mere victims of others’ mistreatment. Instead, they become masters of the situation. Far from a display of weakness, forgiveness is a sign of enormous personal strength. As we truly forgive those who have hurt us, we begin to manifest wholeness in many ways. We release ourselves, and others, from the penalties of sin. We are freed from paying interest on a debt that other people owe us. And they may not even know they owe us; they may not even know they hurt us, or they may have forgotten about it. When we don’t forgive, we keep paying interest on the debt that they owe us. We are the loser. So we forgive.
Another thing forgiveness does is uproot the seeds of bitterness and resentment, not allowing them to germinate. We might define bitterness as unfulfilled revenge. Sometimes I think that by not forgiving someone, I’m getting back at him, but even if that is true, it can’t hurt him as much as it hurts me. Forgiveness shuts the door on yesterday’s wounds. This is so vital, because when my past becomes my present, it robs me not only of my present but also of my future! Forgiveness might not change the other person, but it changes me. It allows God to begin the healing process. Forgiveness breaks the cycle of hurting people hurting others. If I can put that in my heart, the next time I’m hurt by someone, instead of reacting or lashing out in kind, I could stop and think, “This person must really be hurting to be treating me the way he is.” That enables me to look at him with the compassion of Christ, and perhaps even stand for him by prayer, a kind word, or a soft answer.
Many things in this study apply not only if you are the one who needs to forgive, but also if you are the one who needs to ask for forgiveness. If you have sinned against someone, you are to go and ask for forgiveness, and this entails more than just saying, “I’m sorry.” Think about it—when I say, “I’m sorry,” I’m not risking anything, I’m still in control. What I should say is, “Will you forgive me?” Now I’m risking your saying, “Nope.” I am also giving you the opportunity to make a biblical response, that is, to forgive me.
After the sinner says, “I’m sorry,” the sinnee often says, “That’s OK.” Actually, it’s not OK, and that’s why both confession and forgiveness are necessary for true reconciliation, that is, bridging the gap between two human hearts caused by the offense. Forgiveness is not merely the action of accepting another person’s apology.
It’s fairly easy to see that if I have wronged someone, I should be the one to ask forgiveness, but what if I am the one wronged? Wouldn’t it be too dangerous for me to make the first move? Shouldn’t I wait for the other person to have a change of heart and come to me? Not according to Jesus Christ, and he is surely our supreme example of one forgiving others. Here’s what he said:
If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over.
To “show him his fault” means to tell him how he hurt you and to hold him accountable for doing so, and that doesn’t mean at a towering decibel level. You are reaching for his heart, and giving him the best opportunity to do what is right before God, and you have the right to expect a godly response from a brother in Christ. Yes, it is often scary, but God will help you have wisdom and compassion in reaching out like this to another brother, for his sake.
What is forgiveness?
Four key elements are recognition, repentance, restitution, and reconciliation.
Thanks for reading.
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